I've just taken possession of an Amazon Echo device (commonly called Alexa) and having Siri on my iPhone and access to Google voice search I thought I'd try an experiment and ask them all exactly the same thing, to see if one or other came out on top. So here are the questions, together with the answers that I got.
Q: Who are Everton's players?
Alexa - gave me a response that was years out of date.
Google - reasonable response, with a list of current players
Siri - defaulted to Bing search which was incorrect.
Q: How tall is Ben Nevis?
Alexa - 4,411 feet, 1,344.5 metres
Google - 1344 metres
Siri - 4,411 feet, 1,343 metres
According to Wolfram Alpha the actual height is 4,406 feet, 1343 metres. I couldn't get the height from Ben-Nevis.com and Wikipedia gives it as 1,345 metres 4,411 ft, so no-one seemed quite right, but I'll give this one to...
Q: How many children does the queen have?
Alexa: 4 children
Google: Gives their names on the screen, and responds with Prince Charles, Princess Anne 'and others'.
Siri: the correct number, and all named
Q:What's the cure for whooping cough?
Alexa: 'I can't find the answer to the question I heard'
Google: The antibiotic azithromycin, plus lots of extra useful information.
Sir: Defaults to a Bing search
Q: What's another name for whooping cough?
Google: Pertussis plus lots of useful information
Siri: Defaults to a Bing search
Q:What time is it in New York?
Alexa: Got it correct
Google: Got it correct, but had the hour difference out by an hour
Siri: Correct, with details on the time difference
Q: What's the time difference between here and New York City?
Alexa: 5 hours ahead
Google: 5 hours ahead (contradicting its earlier answer)
Siri: Exact time and my exact address.
Q: What's the population of London?
Google: 8,674,000 in 2015
The UKpopulation2016 site gives the figure as 8,700,00
Winner: They're all wrong!
Q: When is National Libraries Day 2017?
Alexa: Didn't understand the question
Google: Gave the correct result
Siri: Defaulted to Bing results
Q: What were the casualty figures from the American Civil War?
Alexa: Didn't find an answer
Google: 850,000 from civilwar.org
Sir: 750,000 from Wikipedia
Winner: I'm giving this to Google, since the current figure is under debate, but I think it's got a closer response from a site that I trust more.
Q: How many days until Xmas?
Google: Correct, with added fun material
Winner: Google, just because it gave extra content
Q: How many days since 1st August 1959
Google: No immediate answer, but a link to a website which gave me 20,906
Siri: 20,906 from Wolfram Alpha
Q: When does it get dark tonight?
Alexa: Sunset at 5.40pm
Siri: 5.41 and extra information on the weather
Q: What's the astrological sign for today?
Alexa: Didn't understand the question
Google: Link to a website
Q: What is the answer to life?
Alexa: "42, but the answer is more complicated"
Google: 42, with lots more information
Siri: 'I Kant answer that. Ha ha!'
Q: How many children did John Lennon have?
Alexa: Didn't answer the question
Google: Just the number, no names
Siri: Number and names
Q: What was the result of the referendum?
Alexa: Simply refused to say anything at all! I asked twice and it was clearly sulking.
Google: Linked to the Electoral Commission website
Siri: Link to the BBC news site
Winner: Google for a more authoritative answer.
So the results have all been counted:
Summary: I'm not surprised that Google won, since it's been around for longer and it's just better than anything else. I was most shocked that Alexa just plain got the answer wrong with the date question, but they're all unreliable when it comes to exactitude of populations and height. Of course it's not really an entirely fair trial since they're all good for different things, but Alexa is going to have to really up its game. I'll keep a watch on it, and maybe ask the same questions in 6 months, and see if it's improved.